‘We hear you’, ‘We’ll reach you’! Collecting field data under constraints

Online knowledge sharing toolkit to design data collection targeting hard to reach people in emergencies

MEET OUR TEAM: ‘We hear you’ We’ll reach you’!

Bijita Devsharma from Hyderabad, India

Christina Bierring from Denmark, living in New York City, USA

Hassan Ishaq Ibrahim from Katsina State, Nigeria

Ridhi Sahai from India, living in Washington DC, USA


Our journey was very hectic! We started on Tuesday July 7 and worked till evening Sunday July 12. After the daily Evalhackathon plenary, our group connected on slack to review tasks, brainstorm and come up with next steps. In between we shared our written products.

We were lucky to live in 3 different time zones allowing us to work 24/7. When team members in the US woke up to start a new work day it was afternoon and evening in Nigeria and India and vice versa.


Also, different team members have complementary skills: the substance, different experiences, writing, audio-visual, use of communication technology. To say the least, our collaboration was very productive!



As programme managers, monitoring and evaluation professionals, researchers and field workers worldwide, we often ask ourselves: how is our intervention working? are we achieving results? how are intervention changing people's lives? How can we get qualitative, "thick", credible, authentic, reliable data to answer those questions?

We have a real challenge because our target groups are the poorest, usually voiceless, seldom reached populations. They are particularly difficult to reach because of insecurity, pandemics/epidemics, natural disaster, social norms or just plain lack of transportation infrastructure and time. 

The ‘We hear you’, ‘We’ll reach you’ online data collection design platform solves the problem. In a nutshell, it is a process innovation that helps us apply tools and approaches proven to represent good practice approaches to qualitative data collection under constraints. You can access it anywhere, anytime to tailor your approach to your specific data needs.


  • Modular: pick and choose elements to adapt data collection to what’s feasible in your particular context. Click here to access the modules
  • Designed specifically to reach the poorest, most marginalized populations whose voices you normally don’t hear, whether they live in urban or remote rural areas
  • Provides options to tailor data collection to unstable contexts: pandemics such as COVID19; reduced security due to strife/lawlessness; post natural disasters.
  • Attention to culture including gender related social practices
  • Collaborative: its online knowledge management platform saves you time.  You can reach out to practitioners worldwide who face challenges similar to you, and pick their brains. This saves you precious time and allows you to get started quickly.
  • User created: members of the ‘We hear you’, ‘We’ll reach you’ platform, the community of practice, upload good practice approaches and real life examples based on their experiences in real time.
  • Dynamic: as a member of the ‘We hear you’, ‘We’ll reach you’ community of practice, you can expand on and improve the modules based on your particular experience, "wikipedia" style.  

PRODUCT OF USING THE ‘We hear you’, ‘We’ll reach you’ PLATFORM - EXAMPLE


An evaluation team needs to collect reliable and verifiable qualitative data from young girls (aged 10-16 years) living in hard-to-reach villages in India in order to better respond to their needs for education and menstrual hygiene management during an ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Evaluation questions

How has the pandemic impacted young girls lives and what are their prospects for joining back education after schools reopen?

How are the girls managing their menstruation at home during the pandemic when menstrual supplies are unavailable due to school being shut?


Respondent groups: young, functionally literate girls aged 10-16 years, school teachers. Illiterate parents of respondents (mothers and fathers). Day labourers. Speak a local dialect.

Location and accessibility: Rural village, on hilly terrain 300 km from the district capital. Poorly maintained, dirt roads. Means of transport: horse drawn cart. Limited cellular network and phone connectivity. Only available channels for communication within villages may be the village head office, non-availability of field local field investigators who can converse in the local language.

Culture/gender context: Girls are supposed to be seen, not heard. The head of household speaks on behalf of the family. Girls are also very busy with chores, and their schoolwork. They have little leisure time. Above all, they are not supposed to talk to boys. In fact, it is often unsafe for them to “go to the bathroom”. It happens in open air and on the way they can be raped.

Current constraints: COVID19 infection rate low. Village not under lockdown but masks and distancing measures practiced and enforced.


Step 1: Identifying access points- one key point of contact at the village head office and through that women’s self-help groups for national/state livelihood programmes, youth groups if any (can these be mobilised?)

Step 2: Forming a team comprising of a mix of these groups (for inclusion and minimizing bias) equal no. of members from each: village head office, women SHGs, youth groups, any other

Step 3: Preparing carefully framed interview schedules with closed-ended questions but using elaborate situational statements

Step 4: Organizing a common training for the team at the village head office on data collection through zoom calls/phone calls/document sharing


Win points

  • The interview format/questionnaire that has to be prudently designed with close-ended questions to cover all aspects of a girl’s daily life to understand how she is keeping herself engaged at home during the pandemic. Having the right questions framed in the right manner to which a girl will respond only with a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ will be our way to get her story! Is she getting time for learning any new skill, reading/studying at home, what percent of time does she use for household chores (time-use format) etc. can be some of the questions that will be factored in.
  • Minimal training needed for the administering team as mostly closed-ended questions

Pain Points

  • Has to be done physically so the whole process may be time-consuming; permissions etc. may be needed at the district/village level
  • Proper ethical and pandemic related protocols will need to be laid down and followed
  • A high degree of cooperation and collaboration between the local teams is required
  • Some inherent system of self-monitoring to be included




Select “green” parameters to characterize your target population and context. Get more detail using existing sources of data such as intervention monitoring, evaluation, research, political economy documents, internet….


The “green parameters” selected will automatically trigger “blue” recommended approaches with links to already tested good practice and real life examples. Adjust the recommended approaches as needed.


Upon finished assignment, make sure to upload your experiences (as relevant) to the ‘We hear you’, ‘We’ll reach you’ platform thus ensuring its continued high quality and relevance.


13.07.2020 08:26

Launched at Evaluation Hackathon by

bijita_devsharma christina_bierring hassan_ishaq_ibrahim ridhi_sahai

Maintainer hackathons-ftw

Updated 13.07.2020 08:26

  • hassan_ishaq_ibrahim / update / 13.07.2020 08:26
  • ridhi_sahai / update / 13.07.2020 04:46
  • ridhi_sahai / update / 13.07.2020 04:43
  • ridhi_sahai / update / 13.07.2020 04:43
  • ridhi_sahai / update / 13.07.2020 04:43

Data Collection

Alternative data collection if field visits are not possible in times of Covid-19

Due to the situation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic worldwide, travels abroad are currently and during the coming months impossible. Therefore, on site evaluations cannot be carried out and we have to look for different means to gather the necessary data, e.g. with the help of technological means. Similar conditions for an evaluation could also arise for other reasons. How can we use modern technologies and existing data in order to carry out “off-site” evaluations without access to the field, replacing methods of data gathering by others? What potential, but also what lacks does such an approach have, especially when evaluators’ interaction with site residents cannot be replaced?

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